Venezuela Will Begin Fingerprinting Grocery Shoppers To Control How Much Food They Buy

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(FEDERALJACK)   Venezuela’s food shortage is so bad the country is mandating that people scan their fingerprints at grocery stores in order to keep people from buying too much of a single item.

President Nicolas Maduro says a mandatory fingerprinting system is being implemented at grocery stores to combat food shortages. He calls it an “anti-fraud system” like the fingerprint scan the country uses for voting.

In announcing the plan late Wednesday, Maduro did not say when the system would take effect, but other administration officials suggested it could be in place by December or January.

The move was met with skepticism. Critics said the new system is tantamount to rationing and constitutes a breach of privacy. Others simply wondered if anything short of a systemic overhaul of the economy could help the socialist South American country’s chronically bare shelves.

Venezuela has been grappling with shortages of basic goods like cooking oil and flour for more than a year. In the spring, the administration tried out a similar system in government-run supermarkets on a voluntary basis.

Rigid currency controls and a shortage of U.S. dollars have made it increasingly difficult for Venezuelans to find imported products. Price controls don’t help either, with producers complaining that some goods are priced too low to make a profit and justify production.

The administration blames the shortages both on companies speculating with an eye toward future profits and on black market vendors who buy groceries at subsidized prices and illegally resell them for several times the amount.

In his announcement, Maduro floated the possibility of easing some of the country’s price controls, though he did not provide specifics. Defenders of the controls say that by keeping prices for basic goods artificially low, Venezuela helps the nation’s poor lead more dignified lives.

Last week, Venezuela began closing its border with Colombia at night in an effort to cut down on smuggling, which Maduro has said diverts nearly half of Venezuela’s food.

As of January, more than a quarter of basic staples were out of stock in Venezuelan stores, according to the central bank’s scarcity index.

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Iowa Students to Wear Heart Rate Monitors

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(ABC NEWS) Students going back to school in Dubuque, Iowa, are going to find it a little harder to slack off in gym.

Public middle and high school students will have to wear heart rate monitors in gym class to make sure they are actually being physically active.

“It will be a large portion of their grade, because we want to grade them on what they’re actually doing in our class,” Dubuque Schools Athletic and Wellness Director Amy Hawkins toldABC News.

Teachers will use the information collected from the heart rate monitors to write report cards.

“It really takes the opinion out of things,” Hawkins said. “You know it’s not really ‘I think your kid is doing this and this in class.’”

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Reporter Arrested During Ferguson Protests

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(FEDERALJACK) A reporter for the Huffington Post recounts his experience being arrested while covering the recent protests over a shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Do You Have It Up Your Ass?” Drug Warriors in New Mexico Go Too Far

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(REASON TV)   In October of 2012, Timothy Young was pulled over for failing to use his turn signal in Lordsburg, New Mexico. When Hidalgo County deputies saw that Young’s companion had an open container, they asked to search the truck. Young consented.

The search dragged on for more than two hours. Deputies eventually called in a K9 unit and claimed that the dog, Leo, alerted on the driver’s seat. While deputies sought a warrant for a more extensive search, deputy Patrick Green continued to interrogate Young, at one point asking him, “Do you have it up your ass?”

After the deputies obtained a search warrant, they handcuffed Young and drove him an hour away to the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City, New Mexico. Young was x-rayed and digitally probed without his consent. No contraband was found. A few weeks later, the hospital sent Young a bill for services rendered.

Young sued all parties involved. So far he has received a judgment of $925,000 from Hidalgo County.

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Jeremy Scahill: Leaked U.S. Terrorist Watchlist Rulebook Reveals “Global Stop and Frisk Program”

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(FEDERALJACK)   The Obama administration has expanded the national terrorist watchlist system by approving broad guidelines over who can be targeted. A leaked copy of the secret government guidebook reveals that to be a deemed a “terrorist” target, “irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary.” Both “known” and “suspected” suspects are tracked, and terrorism is so broadly defined that it includes people accused of damaging property belonging to the government or financial institutions. Other factors that can justify inclusion on the watchlist include postings on social media or having a relative already deemed a terrorist. Democracy Now interviews investigative reporters Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept. Last week they published the secret U.S. document along with their new article, “The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist.”

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Power Grab: EPA Wants To Garnish Wages of “Polluters”

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(WASHINGTON TIMES)   The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly floated a rule claiming authority to bypass the courts and unilaterally garnish paychecks of those accused of violating its rules, a power currently used by agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service.

The EPA has been flexing its regulatory muscle under President Obama, collecting more fines each year and hitting individuals with costly penalties for violating environmental rules, including recently slapping a $75,000 fine on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property.

“The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said when he learned of the EPA’s wage garnishment scheme.

Others questioned why the EPA decided to strengthen its collection muscle at this time.

Critics said the threat of garnishing wages would be a powerful incentive for people to agree to expensive settlements rather than fight EPA charges.

EPA officials did not respond to repeated questions by The Washington Times about why they thought it was necessary to garnish people’s wages.

The EPA announced the plan last week in a notice in the Federal Register, saying federal law allows it “to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.”

The agency cited authority under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 that centralized federal collection operations under the Treasury Department, which oversees garnishments of wages or tax refund checks.

Under the law, every federal agency has the authority to conduct administrative wage garnishment, provided the agency adopts approved rules for conducting hearings where debtors can challenge the amount of debt or terms of repayment schedule, a Treasury official said.

Still, the rule would give the EPA sweeping authority to dictate how and whether Americans could dispute fines and penalties, even as the amount of EPA fines collected from individuals, businesses and local governments steadily increase.

The amount of fines raked in by the agency has jumped from $96 million in 2009 to $252 million in 2012, a more than 160 percent increase, according to EPA annual reports.

Putting the collection powers on a fast track, the agency announced it in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would take effect automatically Sept. 2, unless the EPA receives adverse public comments by Aug. 1.

The EPA said it deemed the action as not a “significant regulatory action” and therefore not subject to review.

The negative reactions began almost immediately.

In a comment letter submitted to the EPA, the conservative Heritage Foundation faulted the rule for giving the government “unbridled discretion” in controlling the process for challenging fines and wage garnishment, such as dictating the site of a hearing without consideration of the time and travel expense placed on the accused debtor.

The rule allows the EPA to decide whether a debtor gets a chance to present a defense and then picks whomever it chooses to serve as a hearing officer, even someone not trained as an administrative law judge, wrote David S. Addington, group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation.

It also puts the burden of proof on the debtor, not the EPA, he said.

The EPA has been on the front lines of the battle over Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, including issuing proposed rules that would require coal-fired power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent over 15 years.

Critics say it will cause massive increases in the cost of electricity, lead to power shortages and eliminate jobs, while making scant impact on the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted worldwide.

The agency has been a magnet for criticism over new rules on things such as wood-burning stoves and small streams or ponds on private land, including waterways on farms and golf courses.

SOURCES

TSA Confiscates Instrument From Grammy Winning Artist

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(FEDERALJACK)   Reportedly in connection with intelligence indicating al-Qaeda has developed new harder to detect bombs, the Transportation Security Agency will now require passengers coming from certain overseas airports to power up cellphones and other electronic devices in front of security agents. The failure of a device to boot can potentially indicate the presence of a bomb and may result in confiscation, according to the TSA. Seizure of personal items has been a growing issue, and recently made its way back into the headlines when the agency impounded a part of the bass belonging to Grammy winner Christian McBride.

Agriculture Trade Groups Crackdown on Journalists’ Rights

 Agriculture Trade Groups Crackdown on Journalists Rights

(FEDERALJACK)   Agriculture industry trade groups are defending themselves in courts across the country from journalists and activists who believe their First Amendment rights are being violated. Animal rights activists, environmentalists and journalists who make secret video recordings to expose cases of animal cruelty on farms face the possibility of criminal prosecution due to restrictive laws passed with the support of big agriculture.

Mackenzie: ‘What if I die before the trial?’

(QUAD CITY TIMES)   An Iowa cancer patient awaiting trial on marijuana charges whispered a question to his attorney during a Friday status hearing in Scott County District Court.

“What if I die before the trial?” Benton Mackenzie asked.

The 47-year-old is one of six defendants whose charges stem from a Scott County Sheriff’s search last summer that seized 71 marijuana plants.

Mackenzie, who shared his story with the Quad-City Times in September, says he grew the marijuana for cannabis oil to treat his terminal cancer. He said that since deputies confiscated his plants, his health has worsened to the point his family has put him on hospice watch.

He doesn’t think he’ll live long enough to make it to trial, which on Friday was set for June 2, almost a year after the search.

Initially, the trial was set for last October. Then it was postponed to December, then March, and now June 2.

“At this time schedule, they’re trying to kill me,” Mackenzie said after Friday’s hearing.

During the hearing, Scott County District Judge Henry Latham attributed the delays to the defense as Latham and lawyers laid out a calendar of future court dates.

Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said he isn’t dropping the case.

“I haven’t been given any legal reason why charges should be dismissed,” Walton said.

In answer to Mackenzie’s question about what happens to the case if he dies, Walton said the case against the other defendants would go on.

Iowa law doesn’t allow medical marijuana. Mackenzie had an opinion about the bill that failed in the Iowa Legislature earlier this week.

“There are still chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea,” he said.

ORIGINAL ARTILCE HERE

Woman sentenced to 2 days in jail because she couldn’t afford her truancy fines dies in jail

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(John Vibes)   Eileen DiNino, a 55 year old mother of 7 was sent to prison because she couldn’t afford to pay for her children’s truancy fines.  Tragically, after serving half of her two day prison sentence, she was found dead in her cell.

District Judge Dean R. Patton of Reading, Pennsylvania sentenced Ms. DiNino to two days in prison to erase roughly $2,000 in fines.

Patton sent the woman away to prison against his better judgement, but as with most government jobs, Patton is required to ignore his own conscience to abide by federal and state laws.

Her cause of death has yet to be determined, but police say that it is “not suspicious.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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